Up Next: What’s developing in kids production

Cosgrove turns a gadget-happy loner into a preschool superhero
June 1, 2005

Cosgrove turns a gadget-happy loner into a preschool superhero

On the surface of things, five-year-old Roger would seem to be living a rather lonely life, residing as he does in a remote lighthouse with his dad, who is too busy keeping an eye on the ocean 24/7 to spend much time with his young son. In fact, Roger’s only companions are his dog Wingnut and a robot pal named Tin-o-beans he constructed from mechanic scraps. But the lack of neighbors doesn’t phase him much, because from his bedroom at the top of the tower, Roger uses his imagination to create catastrophes that need a little hero intervention.

Enter Cosgrove Hall’s Roger to the Rescue, an adventure series for four- to six-year-olds that follows along as Roger and his trusty sidekicks routinely save the day using their superpowers and a unique collection of homemade gadgets. In one episode, Roger is hailed by Tin-o-beans (who monitors all goings-on in the nearby town via radar) when an ice cream factory explodes, spreading a gooey ooze everywhere. Attaching a high-powered vacuum to his gyrocopter, Roger manages to clean the town up nicely, meaning that the annual jamboree can go ahead without a hitch.

The 26 x 10-minute series is in development and will be animated in 2-D and CGI for roughly US$3.25 million. Cosgrove is currently in negotiations with broadcasters, co-production partners and licensees, and the team is aiming to deliver the series in 2007.

Aussie comedians team with Sesame to turn a preschooler’s world upside down

Digging down under for new talent, the Workshop has turned up a pair of stand-up veterans whose skill at physical comedy will drive a new preschool series called The Upside Down Show. The Umbilical Brothers (a.k.a. Shane Dundas and David Collins) are staple performers on the Aussie comedy circuit as masters of slapstick for adults. But the pair also created voices and sound effects for Universal’s Maisy, which may have piqued their interest in entertaining a younger demo.

Imaginary play is the curriculum focus of The Upside Down Show, which is set in the brothers’ studio apartment, a magical abode with endless doors that lead to whatever the fellas need or want. In each episode, they use the portals (and a little location shooting and green-screen technology) to visit a place they’ve never been before, like the beach or the supermarket. But the trip always goes awry…with a bit of help from fans at home.

Using an improvisational trick that encourages audience participation in comedy bits, the brothers give an imaginary remote control to their viewers and spur them to press certain buttons that control the action. For example, when kids are told to hit the fast-forward button, Dundas and Collins speed up their actions, and the up and down arrows make the brothers move up and down as if they’re on a motorized platform. But there’s also a wild-card button that turns the on-screen world upside-down or sends them on wacky detours (to the South Pole, for example).

Sesame Street veteran Belinda Ward co-created The Upside Down Show with Collins and Dundas, and Sesame Workshop and Sydney’s Blink Films are on-board as production partners. The 26 x half-hour series, budgeted at roughly US$225,000 an episode, will be delivered to commissioning broadcaster Noggin in time for a fall 2006 debut.

Seeking tween misadventure? Just add water

Imagine waking up one morning to find that you’ve turned into a mermaid overnight, and every time you come into contact with water you sprout a tail and gills. Now imagine trying to maintain a teenager’s lifestyle while coping with this turn of events.

This is exactly what happens to three 16-year-old girls in the latest show to come out of Aussie live-action shop Jonathan M Shiff Productions. A co-pro with German broadcaster ZDF, H2O begins with Emma, Cleo and Rikki enjoying a dream summer on the beach, surfing and sunning the hours away. But when a water adventure goes wrong and the trio washes up on the mysterious island of Mako, they fall under a magical spell that turns them into merfolk. It’s still early days, and the partners are focused on scripting and casting the 26 x half-hour series, but story lines will likely hinge on tween issues such as keeping friends and discovering boys while trying to avoid water at every turn.

Set for an October 2006 delivery, H2O should cost US$10.3 million to produce, with on-location shooting on Australia’s Gold Coast and lots of underwater shots from Sea World.

E.T. geeks stage an intergalactic coup from Earth in Rick Ungar’s newest toon

Socially inept brainiacs have been a part of human society for centuries, but we’ve never considered that they might have an ulterior goal beyond excelling at math – a big mistake, according to a new comedy toon from New York’s BKN. The nerds in Triple Threat from Outer Space are actually aliens disguised as humans, and they’re threatening to destroy 50 micro-galaxies hidden on Earth unless they’re given control of the universe.

The fate of the cosmos rests in the hands of three alien girls posing as human teens. Guided by their boss (incognito as a pet goldfish), Star, Mac and Nikki must locate and free all of the kidnapped micro-galaxies, while maintaining their cover identities with frequent trips to the mall and sleepovers.

Scripts are still being hammered out for the 26 x half-hour series, but in one roughed-out episode, the girls must hunt down a geek who happens to be the 7’1′ center for New York’s professional basketball team. He’s hidden a micro-galaxy somewhere in the Big Apple, and he’s about to slip away via a mid-season trade to another team. Since girls aren’t allowed in the locker room, the triple threat team uses their combined feminine wiles to convince a male friend from school to keep the basketball star busy while they scour the city for the missing system.

Budgeted at US$6.5 million, Triple Threat from Outer Space will be rendered in high-end 2-D animation. BKN is talking to potential presale partners and would like to see the show on-air by September 2006.

About The Author


Brand Menu